A DNA fragment of about 13 kb containing the human tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) promoter was previously isolated from a genomic DNA library and sequenced. The 11 kb from the transcription start of the human TH promoter was successively joined to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) to generate a transgenic mouse model. High levels of GFP expression could be observed in TH-positive cells of the Substantia nigra of embryonic and adult mice. Intriguingly, the sequence of the human TH promoter showed a low degree of homology with the mouse and rat TH promoters. In fact, comparative analysis of the sequences of human, rat, and mouse TH promoters revealed only five small regions of high homology. These five evolutionarily conserved regions were numbered in numeric progression from the 5′ end of human TH promoter. In the present study, a panel of minimal human TH promoters was generated to analyze the transcriptional activity and specificity of gene expression conferred by the five conserved regions (CRs). The series of constructs was termed 250 bp and contained the first −194 bp of the human TH promoter immediately upstream of the transcription start, the first 35 bp the human TH messenger RNA leader, plus one or more of the five CRs. All the constructs were assembled in a self-inactivating form of the latest series of lentiviral vector system based on the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Lentiviral-mediated gene transfer was highly efficient for the in vitro transduction of human neuronal progenitor cells (hNPCs). Since a subset of hNPCs express TH following in vitro treatment with a mixture of differentiating agents, it was possible to assess specificity of expression for all the minimal human TH promoters. Overall, the successive addition of the five conserved regions produced a greater degree of specificity in induced TH-positive hNPCs, in particular after the addition of CRI (−8,917, −8,876). However, the human TH minimal promoters did not show any specificity for TH-positive differentiated mouse primary striatal and S. nigra cells, indicating a difference of TH gene regulation between the human and mouse systems. The human TH minimal promoters may provide the opportunity for the selection of TH-positive human embryonic and adult stem cells for brain transplantation experiments in animal models for Parkinson's disease. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.